We’ve reached the official peak of the Atlantic hurricane season but what does that mean exactly?
September 10th is a significant date on the meteorological calendar. Put simply, it means that it’s the date that, climatologically, it’s most likely there will be a tropical storm or hurricane in the Atlantic basin.
“(September 10th is) just the day more likely that there is something out there anywhere,” said Spectrum News Chief Meteorologist Mike Clay, based in Tampa. “It doesn’t mean it is the most intense or the biggest threat or anything like that.”
To Clay’s point: geography matters. Because the Atlantic Ocean spans more than 40 million square miles in size (and the Caribbean and Gulf of Mexico add another nearly two million square miles as well), a high number of tropical storms and/or hurricanes doesn’t necessarily mean they’re impacting land.
But, this is the time of year – and the specific date – most associated with the development of Atlantic tropical storms and hurricanes.
According to hurricane researcher Dr. Phil Klotzbach of Colorado State University, about 75 percent of Atlantic seasons have had at least one named storm on September 10th, and about 50 percent of years have at least one hurricane on that date.
September 10th also represents the approximate midpoint of the Atlantic hurricane season as well. The Atlantic’s official season runs from June 1st through November 30th, but the busiest stretch is typically from mid-August through mid-October.
September 10th wedges roughly halfway between mid-August and mid-October.
As a whole, September is usually home to the most and, often, some of the worst hurricanes in the Atlantic basin. Because of water’s high specific heat (the amount of energy needed to raise water’s temperature), sea-surface temperatures are usually at their warmest at the end of summer.
Coupled with the relentless string of monsoon-driven storms rolling off the west coast of Africa, and September is known for harboring high amounts of tropical storms and hurricanes.
So with the peak of hurricane season upon us (and even if it wasn’t), make sure you’re prepared in case a hurricane heads in your direction.
“Now that we’re entering the peak of the season, remember not to pay attention to what we have left for storm names because it only takes one of these to cause issues for us,” said Spectrum News Chief Meteorologist Bryan Karrick, based in Orlando.
That said, this season is a record breaking one. In fact, it is highly likely we will run through all the hurricane names. Once that happens we will use the Greek alphabet. That’s only happened once before in 2005.